CORNELIUS – Once again, the amount of money the developer is willing to invest in road improvements weighed on whether to approve a new neighborhood.

Cornelius commissioners approved the Avery Park subdivision on Bailey Road on June 16, though Commissioner David Gilroy voted against it because of traffic concerns.

“It’s a good project in terms of the investment and the return will be there. I’m sure these houses will sell,” Gilroy said. “But to me, our loyalty up here has got to be strictly to the citizens collectively who live here today and not the ones who may live here at some future time.  … There’s a major transportation problem with Bailey Road and N.C. 115 that I think is insoluble. I hope it isn’t the disaster I expect.”

The 40.5-acre area with 94 single-family lots by M/I Homes is part of the town's extraterritorial jurisdiction, but was approved with one of the conditions being it would be annexed into town. Other conditions include restriping the southbound left turn lane onto Bailey Road from N.C. 115, widening Bailey Road for westbound traffic and right turns onto N.C. 115 and taking out the painted median on Bailey Road in front of Hough High to serve as a left turn lane into Avery Park. All road improvements require repaving of the entire width of road and not simply the changing section and must be completed by the time 25 percent of the lots are recorded.

Bob Williams, representing M/I Homes of Charlotte, said while no costs have been estimated, repairs would definitely be in the six figures.

The subdivision, which changed zoning from a rural preservation to rural preservation-conditional zoning, is the first of its kind under the new conservation development ordinance.

Planning Director Wayne Herron said the purpose of the conservation measure is to maximize the green space and preserve forested area. Avery Park is required to have a perimeter buffer, plus has a lower density than other neighborhoods. The plan has 16.3 acres of open space, a 2-acre park, wet ponds, a playground, dog park and community garden, plus new greenways. Staff stipulated there has to be adequate landscaping and trees.

Homes are slated to be between 2,100 and 3,500 square feet similar to M/I Home’s Antiquity but with wider lots. The Architecture Review Board members asked M/I Homes to return to review home designs and the final proposed subdivision layout as it was not unique and looked basic, according to staff notes.

Resident John Bosak agreed, expressing concern it was too similar to nearby neighborhoods and also objecting to the potential traffic.

Williams said the total traffic time would only add three seconds in the morning and five seconds in the afternoon during peak times with the addition of the neighborhood, according to 2017 estimates. Gilroy thought those estimates seemed low.

Town Traffic Consultant David Naylor said the traffic impact analysis study shows 27 people turning right and 33 people turning left out of the neighborhood. Of those going to the Bailey Road and N.C. 115 intersection, the study shows 11 turning left, six going straight and 10 turning right.

Commissioners Woody Washam and John Bradford said they don’t know what else to do but believe the experts. They appreciated the commitment of the developers.?